Yeesh. You know, after all these years of hating Jerry Falwell – hating him, literally filled with hate and not afraid to say it, as he was someone who so dearly deserved every bit of negative energy that could have thrown in his smug, sweating face – I was hoping this would feel different. I expected a little more jubilation on my part, as though some kind of mythical beast had been slain and a great battle had been won. Alas, I'm instead feeling something more akin to a major anticlimactic event. The knight who thrust sword into the terrifying dragon has come back to report that it was definitely imposing…but it was made merely of Paper Mache, popsicle sticks and Elmer's Glue-All. Mostly, I feel as though I've wasted my time. I feel as though my anger and fervor has been directed, all the while, at a mirage. A scarecrow. That's not to say that Jerry Falwell wasn't a bad fellow – he was the worst of fellows. He was a greedy, ignorant, racist, sexist, anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-logical thought and anti-American bag of wind. He was – by the most specific, poignant and accurate meaning of the term – a motherfucking asshole. But what of it? Now that he's gone, isn't another more racist, more ignorant, bigger motherfucking asshole going to take his place? Probably. Take your pick. Pat Robertson? You're a fucking lunatic – come on down! And it was that realization this week that hit me so firmly and so quickly that I've been thinking about it ever since. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard…these guys are dicks. They're veritable monsters, but in an ideological sense, they are (were), by themselves, just one person. They're not to blame for the scourging of liberty in this country. They're just the messengers. The auctioneers. So I didn't spend this week being glad that Jerry Falwell keeled over. I spent this week being pissed off that so many mindless fools paid him credence for so long. That so many non-thinkers congregated and gave him power. And that, given the chance, they'll just up and do it again with someone else. Jerry Falwell isn't to blame. You jackasses that supported – and, much worse, acted out his wishes – are. Yep, I'm looking dead at you, Evangelicals. One of my good friends – an Evangelical himself, but one who, as far as I'm concerned, is in the minority as far as the application of the group's beliefs go – told me this week that I was predictable. That he knew I was going to go for the easy Falwell angle. He was probably expecting me to throw together some angry tirade full of vitriol and name-calling (which he got to an extent and which will continue to some degree – hey, I'm brash and unconcerned with decorum). To that end he's going to probably be a little disappointed in me, and there's no doubt I'm going to be repeating myself here, going over ground I've already footprinted rather heavily. However, with all due respect, I'm much less concerned with being predictable than I am with applying my stamp of disgust and disapproval to my small fraction of the Internets on an issue that concerns me deeply. What hasn't affected me yet, but has affected so many others, I fear is in serious danger of causing havoc in my life. In fact, I think the biggest mistake I could make is keeping quiet for fear of seeming a broken record. Plain English: you, Evangelicals, you are fucking ruining my once-great country, and frankly I'm goddamned sick and tired of it. Falwell was your poster boy, and rightfully so. Jerry may have been backwards and criminally uncultured, but what he wasn't was stupid. In the late 1970's/early 1980's this man had a finger on the pulse of the Evangelical nation, and what he saw was a group of people (uncoordinated sheep) that could be rallied (herded) under a common ideology (discriminatory fantasy of fear) and molded (brainwashed, manipulated and used) for the political (power mongering) and financial (tax-exempt) gain of the faith as a whole (authoritarian-level only). That in and of itself – while saying nothing about his organizational and charismatic skills – is a fucking impressive business and legislative feat. Of course the whole ball of wax centered around a deistic theology that preaches hatred, exclusion and fear, but the worst part isn't that Falwell gave it to you. Oh no. The worst part is not only that you were dumb enough to listen, but stupid enough to buy into it and arrogant enough to try to force it on the rest of us. A motherfucking asshole with bad ideas and hateful rhetoric is just a motherfucking asshole; you can tune him out if you don't want to hear him. But 25 million motherfucking assholes practicing what that bag of shit preaches? That's a direct threat to the other innocent 275 million Americans. And you know what, let's just get this out of the way right now: if you're going to come on here and try to spin my assertions as though I'm intolerant of your beliefs, you best pedal your Big Wheel and keep going. If we're talking about what people believe on a purely self-contained level…I don't really give a fuck. Seriously. I could absolutely not care less. Want to hate gay people? Hate them. Want to hate black people? Hate them. Want to think the world was created in six days 6,000 years ago? Have at it. Want to believe that abstinence-only sex education programs really work? Delude yourself. Have a goddamn ball! In fact, tell anyone who will listen EXACTLY what you think. Get a bullhorn and shout it from the rooftops. Make signs and slap up pictures of aborted fetuses on your AstroVan. Because I don't care what you THINK. I don't care what you practice FOR YOURSELF. In fact, I will go to the end of the pier to make sure you have the right, every single day of your life, to your beliefs. I swear to you I will. Because as long as you don't infringe on my liberties or those of others, that's your right as defined by the Constitution. Be Evangelical. Revel in it. Assume that you're right and that you're going to Heaven and I'm not. I hope you enjoy the feeling. But forgive me if I stand in front of you, middle finger extended, and ask that you get fucked. Because while I and millions of other Americans extend you the courtesy of your full and unmitigated rights, you're sure as balls not willing to do the same, are you? Because Evangelicals, as a political movement, are the only group that seem to have an almost preternatural need to step into other people's lives to tell them how they should live it – according to the Evangelical system. And I'm sorry, I know I'm recovering ground that I already covered a few times again and being cliché in the process, but I don't think you're getting the fucking point: that's not the way it works. Why do you think everyone should live by your standards? Why? Because you're standards were written by "God"? Is that it? And the proof that you offer is a shabby, contradiction-infested book of fables written by men – not "God" – that has seen literally hundreds of different translations over a few thousand years? Really? Your basis for living your life is predicated upon a document that has all the historical authentication of a 16 year-old girl's Trapper Keeper-based rumor diary? That's funny. Really, it's hilarious. But wait, wait…I know where this is going to go again. America was founded as a Christian nation on Christian values, right? I'm inclined to disagree. First of all, while many of the framers of the Constitution were indeed Christians, they approached the writing of the document with a solidly Deistic tone. They refer to a generic "God" and "Creator" in the document and in several other places so as to encompass a wealth of different beliefs; you'll find no mention of Christianity specifically as a basis, nor will you anywhere in any of the building democratic materials for this country find the word "Jesus". Anywhere. And then the Ten Commandments. Oy. I hate to break it to you, fellas, but the Ten Commandments are little more than a laundry list of common sense and a few rules that the Constitution breaks specifically to keep everyone from HAVING to be influenced by Christian "values" (and you'll see me use those quotations a lot as per "values" – this is to denote that I see very little value in your "values"). Honor Mom and Dad, don't cheat, don't steal, don't lie, don't kill. A full ½ of your vaunted Pillar for Righteous Living (TM) is basic common sense, so you can't claim it as "Christian Ideology"…unless you want to try to tell me that, before the Ten Commandments, people didn't know that any of this was wrong. And even YOU guys don't have an excuse lined up for that. The rest of the Constitution – save for "Don't be Jealous/Don't Covet", which is a whining dictation if I've ever heard one – falls under the "Honor God" emblem. Here's the rub – guess what? The Constitution is framed SPECIFICALLY to separate Church and State. In other words, the laws of our country instruct us that we have ZERO obligation to honor the Sabbath, not take God's name in vain, and worship the Christian God. Fuck – looks to me like the Founding Fathers were telling us that not only do we not have to live in a Christian Nation, but it would be BETTER if we didn't. I guess this idea slipped past you guys at some point, because MAN…have you ever fucked this place up doing exactly what the Constitution was trying to guard against. I know, I know…it's UNFATHOMABLE to think that two people of the same sex might find happiness in being married to one another. I get it – you think they're sinning. Understood. Must be hard for you to grasp. That being said…how is their sinning hurting you? Really, I'm dying to know this. Because that's the only reason you should try to stop them from being happy – if their happiness is causing a decline in the quality of your life or preventing you from living it to the fullest. Are you telling me that you care that much? Hey, look, I think you're a douchebag! I think it's sad and pathetic that you've spent a good portion of your life dictated by a mess of fairy tales and taking advice from an imaginary friend in the sky, but I'm not trying to stop you from going to Sunday School. You playing with diseased toys doesn't infect anyone else's sandbox, so why should I let it bother me? And last I checked, being gay wasn't illegal, much as you continue to mislabel the state of being as a "choice". So how it can be illegal to marry someone who's not being illegal? You can't help but meddle, can you? It's not enough to deny the gays the right to marry and/or share the same legal benefits of heterosexual couples. You also have to tout your abstinence-only public school sex education programs, because Abstinence is a contract that you make with God to keep yourself pure until you get married. This one REALLY gives me a laugh (when it doesn't make me want to vomit). There are two reasons for this, first and foremost being…you must all really have your heads jammed so far up your asses that the bile is burning your eyebrows. You think even the fear of God and Eternal Damnation has any chance of winning out in a battle of conscience against raging teenage hormones, critical-thinking immaturity and a house that's devoid of parents after school? I mean…come ON. Nothing can compete with that. Most of your teenagers that are keeping themselves sexually inactive? They're not, and if they tell you they are they're lying to you. Check the stats: abstinence-only programs are failing across the board. And now you've stepped up and are trying to block PUBLIC school districts from giving young girls the HPV vaccine, a one-time medicinal treatment that could, down the line, kill their chances of developing cervical cancer. And why? Because everyone at the Evangelical Clown College has convinced themselves that it'll lead to teenagers abandoning their Abstinence Pledges (excuse me for a second while I chortle) and lining up to fuck in Math class. Let's not even suggest the idea that a woman could wait until marriage to have sex only to be HPV'd by a partner who was a little less than careful in their pre-matrimonial years, or be raped by someone with a similar affliction. We don't even need to bring that up – the idea that a kid would throw caution to the wind simply because they've been vaccinated against one particular STD is just outlandish. And, come to think of it, doesn't it DIRECTLY contradict what you're supposedly teaching them so well? I mean, even if the shots DID encourage them to go out and have more sex…your abstinence-only doctrine is working, right? Do you don't even need to worry about it, right? Because they're listening to God, right? If God's love is powerful enough to make them abstain without the vaccination, it's still powerful enough to make them abstain with it, no? The funniest thing about this entire premise is that the "don't tell them about sex and they'll never figure it out" is also in DIRECT OPPOSITION to another favorite Conservative (and let's be honest, Evangelicalism and Conservatism go hand-in-hand these days) station: gun control. For years I've listened to Liberals and Neo-Cons debate this issue, and the Liberals always say the same thing: teach your kids that, if they see a gun, they should leave it alone and run and tell an adult. Neo-Cons always answer back the same way: kids can't be trusted, as their curiosity gets the best of them; better to teach them how to handle a gun so they can safely disarm it, lest they pick it up with no previous reference and accidentally blow someone's head off. It's actually a great argument, and one I'm that seems totally valid to me. Unfortunately, it's also wildly contradictory to the sex education argument. I mean, let's get this straight: you're willing to teach kids gun safety, but not sex safety? Their blind, ignorant curiosity can't be trusted around a gun, but it can be trusted around a willing vagina/penis? Logic and knowledge can protect them from a bullet, but those same faculties can't be trusted with premarital intercourse, requiring them to have a Contract with God (TM)? Why can't God's love protect them from being shot? (EDITOR'S NOTE: In proofreading this, I realized that I may have inadvertently conjured for you a disturbing hermaphroditic vision with the term "vagina/penis". Apologies across the board. I don't think that such a thing as a vagina/penis does exist, but if it did it would probably be more aptly written as "vagina-penis". OK, if you weren't thinking about that before you probably are now, so I'm going to stop incriminating myself.) Sorry, I have to clear my head…because the arguments that ya'll are currently making are blowing my mind from a total fucking lack of sense. And, Christ…I haven't even gotten started on abortion. Or Creationism. Or State Personal Sex Laws. Or State Blue Laws. Or Christian Rock. Without breaching those topics I've said enough already, and I'm just now coming to my main point. What's really frightening is that Evangelicals have bought into the idea that everyone else needs to be saved. We all need saved! Heathens, every last non-Evangelical man, woman and child! Abominations! On many individual personal levels, this is true. It's part of your agreement with God (there seem to be a lot of those floating around out there); if someone hasn't found Jesus, they need you to show them the way. Insane, but I can follow the flawed logic. Still, there are so many others that have lost that viewpoint – the genuinely caring, if misguided, notion that non-believers are in for an afterlife full of misery if they don't Go With God (TM). Most Evangelicals, I'm convinced, just don't want to be disagreed with. They have no faith – in other words, they don't BELIEVE in their religion. They instead assume that they're right, that they've found the ultimate truth...and really they just can't stand that someone disagrees with them. Of course on the highest corporate levels of religion, more followers "saving" more people means more parishioners which means more donations which means nothing but more revenue. If that idea comes as a shock and a blaspheme to you…well, you've got a HELL of a lot of catching up to do. What's even MORE frightening is that, on an almost perfect level, Evangelicals are taught to believe that we're in the End Times. Armageddon and the Four Horsemen are at our doorstep and dying to get in to provoke a fiery bloodbath so apocalyptic that you would think Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer were the ones who ghost-wrote the Bible. And what's even MORE frightening than THAT is that these same people are electing officials to our government who believe the same thing. I've gotta tell you…that doesn't make me feel too fucking safe. We're sitting at the feet of a President who figures he's already got one foot out the door; it doesn't matter what he does in this life, because he believes in Jesus and he's going to skip through the Pearly Gates when it's all said and done. Forgive me again if this makes my bowels threaten to release on me, but I'm not tickled with the prospect of a LEFT BEHIND believer in the office. I could go on and on and on and on and bring up countless examples of the ways you jokers are pissing in the sociopolitical pool, but I think I've made my point. Are you the only problem? Naw, but you're the damn biggest and most influential, that's for sure. And yeah, you absolutely fucking deserve to have the scope firmly set on you. I don't see Jews lobbying Congress to pass a bill stating that everyone has to keep kosher. I don't see Muslims trying to shove stone carvings of the Koran in front of courthouses. I don't see Indians harassing me to pay a tithe to a six-armed goddess. Most practitioners of other religions are content to keep their faith to themselves. Why can't you follow that lead? And let's let another cat out of the bag: if any of the representatives of these faiths even sniffed the idea of trying to pull something like that, you would scream discrimination and their intolerance like bloody fucking murder. Because Christianity is its own breathing double-standard in this country, a faith of demagogues and manifest destiny.Shit, sorry, I forgot – you don't have "faith". I meant "simple fanaticism". My mistake.
Lost in all of this, buried under an immense pile of public debate and back-and-forth positioning, are good, salt-of-the-earth, tolerant, moderate Christians. The ones who follow the REAL lesson of Christianity; the ones who understand that the religion, at its best, is meant to be about love and hope and inclusion, not divisiveness and terror and exclusion. These are the people I feel truly bad for. To a degree. Real Christians get lumped in with Evangelicals too often – as do Catholics, but that's a whole 'nother blog – and it's a shame because they're subject to persecution and ridicule from people who, like me, are on guard against tyranny but who, unlike me, can't delineate. These are the people who have REAL faith – they believe something unconditionally because their heart tells them they have to. It's that simple. And though I personally still think their religion is a joke – and not just Christianity, but ALL religion – I can't help but respect and admire that. They just want to believe and be left in peace. In asking for that, though, it's my opinion that they've dropped the ball. These are exactly the people that should be standing up to the Wal-Martified McFaiths that Evangelicals are setting up all over this country and using as a pulpit to speak for the all of Christianity, which, in practice, has quite a varied set of sub-sects. By and large, real Christians are doing nothing to stop the plague of political Evangelicalism...and to me, that's guilt by association. It's like showing up at a bar with a drunk buddy who's not REALLY your friend, then making excuses for him as he aggressively hits on a girl and grabs her ass while her boyfriend is standing right there. The right thing to do is protect the kid from getting the piss beat out of him all the while denouncing him as an idiot. The wrong thing to do is pretend like it's not a big deal or blowing it off as "not my problem", therefore silently admitting that it's OK. There are a lot of good Christians out there. It's time for them to stand up to the Evangelicals and be counted among those in dissent of their policies. It's time for them to take their drunken friend to the car, drive him home, and put him to bed. He's already become an annoyance, and pretty soon – if he continues on his way unchecked – he's going to get behind the wheel himself and really end up hurting someone. And the chances that he's going to be deterred by a stranger aren't as good.
This started out as a blog about the death of Jerry Falwell, one of my Five Least Favorite People on the Planet (TM) and it's going to end that way. But first, as governed by the laws of logic, I have to make an admission:
Everything Jerry Falwell said, everything he stood for, everything he claims to have believed…there's a chance he could be right about it. About every last thing. I have to recognize that or I've lost the structure necessary to have intelligent debate about it. That's the way it goes. In making that admission, however, I'm prepared to follow it up with a statement. I said this once to a Christian believer; his immediate response was, "You don't mean that." The fact is that I do. I mean it as much as I've ever meant anything in my life, and as a free-thinking, caring, good-at-the-end-of-the-day person, here's what I'll say to make my peace with Reverend Falwell: Maybe you were right, Jerry. Maybe gays are sinners and deviants. Maybe I should have kept my penis out of vaginas until I was married. Maybe the ACLU was responsible for 9/11. Maybe black people are inferior to white people. But know this: if you are right, and if the Heaven you so adamantly preached about exists, and if that Heaven is tainted enough to let a heinous cretin like you in…well, I don't want to ever get within a thousand esoteric miles of the place. I'll spend my time in Damnation content in the fact that I might be burning but that I wasn't enough of a coward to have such a brutally flawed God brainwashed into me, that I didn't let the idea of a hateful son of a bitch like that ruin my time on Earth – and that I didn't ruin anyone else's by proxy. One of the Evangelical stalwart comebacks, upon finding out that someone is an Agnostic, is the conceited and fluff-filled, "Wow, it must be an empty feeling to not have something to believe in. Something to hope for." It always makes me feel good when someone attempts this thinly-disguised barb, because what they fail to recognize is that I've got all the hope in the world believing that they've got the universe so very, very wrong.